17 May 2002

BENEFICIALBEETLESRETURN

THE BEETLES are making a comeback! Not the "Fab Four" who took Britain by storm in the early 60s – but a colony of rare stag beetles in the village of Bromsberrow on the Gloucester-shire/Herefordshire border.

The demise of these valuable creatures is considered to have been brought about by loss of habitat through the removal of stumps and other dead wood and the general "tidying up" of managed woodlands over the years.

A novel project is now underway to protect and preserve the threatened species, funded by the Carillion Natural Habitat Fund in conjunction with The Gloucester-shire Wildlife Trust, who are working on two sites in the county to promote the survival of these unique creatures.

For the first project, on land near Bromsberrow Village Hall, several members of GWT along with the Carillion staff and schoolchildren set about burying logs beneath the earth. When rotted these will provide a natural home for the larvae which takes at least three and half years to become fully grown.

Substantial funding from the company means that five county Wildlife Trusts will this year receive monies for a variety of projects. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trusts conservation manager, Rosie Cliffe, who runs the Logs for Larvae project, says they are delighted with the support they are getting: "Stag beetles are a priority species for this county and are included in Gloucester-shires Biodiversity Action Plan. This funding will help us create the habitat needed to protect this fascinating creature, which has significantly declined in numbers since the 1960s."

This beetles group may not be very tuneful – but their eventual arrival on the sunken stage of rotting timbers will be music to the ears of the environmentalists!

Young helpers, five-year-old Henry James and 12 year-old Rosie Ellis gingerly hold a stag beetle, or two.